IN THE NEWS: On JAN 6, 2017
A leading jockey has been accused of animal cruelty after he posted a video on social media that showed him apparently torturing a southern eagle ray on a fishing trip off the Mornington Peninsula.
Michael Walker, 32, who mostly rides for legendary horse trainer David Hayes, posted the video on Friday before deleting it following heavy criticism.
The video appeared to show him bashing the flailing ray in the head with a knife and then pinning it to the boat with the knife through the head before throwing it back into the water alive and bloody.
Walker was posting videos and pictures from a fishing boat off the coast of Hastings.
A man who works for Victoria Police, Daniel Harrison, said he had reported the video to the RSPCA and other authorities.
"The worst part is, this guy works with horses every day of the week," Mr Harrison said. "What's to say he doesn't take his temper out on a horse one day?"
RSPCA Victoria acting chief executive Greg O'Brien said the video was upsetting.
"All fish that are caught for eating must be handled carefully to reduce stress," he said. " They should be humanely killed as soon as possible after capture. Humane killing requires that the fish is stunned before it is killed.
"Fish, including stingrays, are covered under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and those found guilty of deliberate cruelty can face fines and possible imprisonment."
The video prompted criticism from other social media users too.
"What a disgusting thing to do! Shame on you guys," wrote fishing enthusiast Warren Misso.
Walker has won more than $31 million in prize money in his racing career so far, including winning the 2015 Australia Cup on Super Saturday at Flemington on the horse Spillway.
He did not respond to requests for comment.
There was no one available from David Hayes's Lindsay Park Racing to comment.
Southern eagle rays are large animals, which can measure a total length of up to three metres and can weigh more than 50 kilograms. They are in the same family as sharks and other rays.